Viacom’s Black Entertainment Television hosted its annual awards program. BET loves to advance the rhetoric that black entertainers are the “only” entertainers equipped to pay proper homage to deceased black entertainers. The ethnic love for my heritage wants to love what I saw. I would be lying if I did not say that some of the tributes I saw were NOT great.
The Roots were great. Eryah Badu sounded tired and uninterested. When we think of musical performance, we must remember that every artist performs to his or her identity. If we subtract Janelle Monae’s effort to remember Prince, we end up not truly understanding the depth of Prince as a person. She seemed to be the only artist besides Sheila E who gave Prince any authentic passion. It’s important to understand that the face of Black Entertainment is changing. The true face of our entertainment is at a crossroads between arrogance and admiration. We are fighting between the arrogance that comes from years of mistreatment, and the admiration that comes from the desire to be resilient.
If you’d like a picture to examine, look at Alicia Keys’s “In Common, and Beyonce’s “Freedom” I could’ve done without Bilal. I forgot that Jennifer Hudson performed, and that is NOT a good thing, because I am a fan. I’m not a rap fan, but with regard to those I’ll say that I expected what I saw. I’ll leave it at that.
The highlight of the night would be the speech that made headlines. I’m referring to the Humanitarian Award speech given to Jessie Williams, a proud supporter of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Here’s what you did know about Jessie Williams
- He’s an actor from “Grey’s Anatomy”
- His parents are a Swedish white woman, and a Georgia black man
- He’s a Chicago native…
- He’s a Temple University graduate in African American studies, American studies, and English
- Temple’s in Philaedelphia
Williams makes an epic speech but it is only epic in that the audience is surprised. It’s not epic for HIM. He’s been working toward educating African-American people about the racial politics in this country. People must also consider that it’s still easier for a light-skinned black man to express activist views than it is for one with a dark complexion. That conversation is something African Americans are parsing through as a community.
He made efforts to remind everyone that black young men and women are dying at the hands of police brutality because of “white privilege. I took Black American Literature at an HBCU last Spring, and I understand what he means in his speech. I agree that education is the key to freedom, but I also believe believe in what my instructor said about the intended audience, and the “ACTUAL” audience. The pressure of not being labeled because we’re working hard to pay for our labels is steeped in irony. The irony and ambiguity of Williams’ presence at BET was the deeper message.
Black success always comes with a price. The price is: Jesse Williams is actually doing something right, because he’s virtually unknown to the people who haven’t paid real attention to his acting on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Jussie Smollett had one… NON-important appearance on the BET Awards… which is typical considering that no one wanted to address the elephant in the room that was Orlando, Florida. We lost black lives in Orlando, but of course… not a single moment of air-time was dedicated to acknowledging gun-violence.
The sad thing is: BET made money from airing a black-centric version of “Fashion Queens” right after the awards so concluded. What message does that send? #StyleSquadBET
The awards list was really predictable. I don’t feel biased about the winners. I just think we have a way to go before what we call “black entertainment” truly expresses who we really are. I believe that we are making progress! Thank you JESUS!